News / Middle East

Iraq says Syria War Spillover Hinders Oilfields, Pipelines

FILE - Iraqi workers at the Rumaila oil refinery, near Basra, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad.
FILE - Iraqi workers at the Rumaila oil refinery, near Basra, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Spillover attacks from the civil war in Syria have hindered development of Iraq's gas and oil reserves and a major pipeline to the Mediterranean has been blown up dozens of times, Iraq's top energy official said on Tuesday.
 
Violence in Iraq climbed back to its highest level in five years in 2013, with nearly 9,000 people killed, most of them civilians, according to the United Nations.
 
“The ongoing conflict in Syria has resulted in an increasing number of terrorists using vast desert areas between Syria and Iraq to establish bases from which they have carried out attacks against the civilian population and economic targets and infrastructure,” Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani said.
 
“Attacking the energy sector has been among their top priorities to deprive the country of its main revenue source,” he said at an energy conference in London.
 
“The attacks have been focussed on oil export pipelines, power generation and transmission lines.”
 
The al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is also fighting in neighboring Syria, has taken control of the Iraqi city of Falluja west of Baghdad with the help of armed tribesmen.
 
Unrest is not limited to central areas near Baghdad but is also spreading to the north where hundreds of thousands of ethnic Kurds fled the Syrian war to neighboring Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan and Turkey.
 
“The Iraqi Turkish pipeline was blown up 54 times during 2013, averaging once a week yet we managed to repair and use that pipeline and pump on average 250,000 barrels per day last year,” Shahristani said.
 
He said operations at much larger oilfields in Iraq's south, which provide the bulk of oil exports from the Gulf, remained unaffected.
 
However, he said security concerns hindered development of reserves in the western region and its Qayara and Najmah oilfields, operated by Angolan state oil company Sonangol in the al-Qaeda heartland of Nineveh province in the country's northwest.
 
Sonangol is not considering an exit from Iraq, he said at a later briefing for journalists.
 
OPEC quota
 
Despite the violence, Iraq is gearing up for one of the biggest oil output jumps in its history with international companies nearing completion of major projects which so far have not been affected by unrest.
 
Iraq will see its oil production capacity rise by more than 50 percent in 2015 to 4.7 million barrels per day (bpd) compared with more than 3 million at the moment, Shahristani said.
 
The long-term plan is to raise output to 9 million bpd by 2020 and sustain that rate over 20 years, he said.
 
Shahristani said that when output reached 4 million to 5 million bpd, discussions would begin over the country's production quota within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
 
Shahristani said Iraq was preparing a proposal to recalculate the supply allocations for all OPEC's members.
 
“For the time being, we are working on the assumption there will be room for Iraqi crude without having to squeeze anybody out of the market in a serious way,” he said.
 
Once sanctions are lifted on Iran and its production is fully restored, Shahristani said talks on allocations could be sped up.
 
“When Iran comes back to the market - that will be very reassuring for the world,” he said, while adding that he did not expect Tehran's full return this year.
 
Waiting for response from Kurdistan
 
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has angered Baghdad by signing deals with major and mid-sized energy companies in the hope of producing as much as 1 million barrels per day.
 
Kurdistan has built a pipeline to Turkey, but Baghdad insists it has the sole right to export oil from all parts of Iraq, including Kurdistan.
 
“Any oil that leaves Iraq without the permission of [state company] SOMO is illegal and Iraq will have to take actions to protect its oil wealth,” Shahristani said.
 
“We have informed Turkey and the KRG that we cannot allow this to continue,” he said. “We are waiting for a response to our latest proposal”.
 
Shahristani said Baghdad had proposed that the KRG pay the oil companies operating in the region out of its 17 percent share of the national budget, accept that SOMO would market the crude and deposit all revenue into the Development Fund of Iraq, based in New York.
 
The Kurds, however are still insisting on marketing their own oil and say the proposal does not give them enough money to pay the operators.
 
Shahristani said the KRG would respond shortly.
 
He emphasized that Baghdad was ready to act if oil exports continued from Kurdistan without a deal.
 
“We have a very measured action plan vis-a-vis all involved parties - with Turkey, the buyers of that crude - because internationally that's Iraqi crude - and, of course, we'll have to take measures against the KRG.”
 
“Anyone who buys that crude will face legal action from Iraq,” he said, without giving details of how would be done.
 
“The risk for Turkey is very high and very serious,” he said.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid